Government Ethics files a complaint against the rector of the UPR in Arecibo for improper use of official vehicles

Government Ethics files a complaint against the rector of the UPR in Arecibo for improper use of official vehicles

The rector of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Arecibo, Carlos Andujar Rojasallegedly used three official campus vehicles for personal benefit, between August 2017 and April 2022, and for which he incurred expenses amounting to $21,332 in public funds for gasoline, tolls and repairs, according to a complaint filed against him by the Office of Government Ethics (OEG).

The former candidate to preside over the UPR was accused of using official vehicles to travel between his residence, in Toa Alta, and the campus, “outside working hours,” and “during weekends and holidays”: in detail, The rector improperly used cars to go and return from his home to the UPR in Arecibo on 518 occasionsaccording to the complaint signed, on August 25, by lawyers Alexandra Rivera Rios and Nimia Salabarria Belardo.

The OEG argued that, By using public property for personal use, the defendant violated Article VI of the ConstitutionArticle 3 of the Official Vehicle Law, as well as Article VIII of the “Regulations for vehicles and other means of transportation of the UPR.” Likewise, he pointed out that the official violated Article 4.2 of the Government Ethics Law.

Dr. Andujar Rojas occupies the rectory of the Arecibo campus from July 7, 2017 to the present. Since he assumed office, he was assigned, at different periods, the official 2011 Toyota Sienna, 2020 Ford Escape, and Chevrolet Traverse vehicles, all owned by the UPR.

“The defendant used public property to obtain a personal benefit not permitted by law. The defendant’s conduct caused public funds to be disbursed to cover his expenses for gasoline and tolls for the assigned vehicles.“the complaint indicates.

The expense for gasoline totaled $12,442.82 for the three vehicles, specifically, $5,925.12 for the Toyota Sienna, $5,518.38 for the Ford Escape and $999.32 for the Chevrolet Traverse.

Likewise, for toll expenses in the Autoexpreso system, the disbursement was $2,870.25, at a rate of $1,991.15 for the Toyota Sienna, $591.15 for the Ford Escape and $287.95 for the Chevrolet.

Additionally, he spent $4,353 of public funds on repairs to the Toyota Sienna and $1,566.82 to the Ford Escape.

The OEG urged that a civil penalty equivalent to three times the value of the economic benefit received be imposed on Andujar Rojas. In addition, he mentioned that the UPR management could order the restitution of the money.

The rector of the UPR of Arecibo was granted a period of 20 days to respond to the allegations in the complaint.

When approached by this means, the president of the UPR, Luis A Ferrao Delgadosimply said that he will remain attentive to the development of the case to evaluate the next steps. “The complaint stipulates that the official has 20 days to respond to the allegations, since the process continues, we will be attentive to analyze the action to be taken,” he said in writing.

He Justice Department had concluded, in May 2022, that Andujar Rojas did not violate the law for the use of public property, specifically, the assigned official vehicle, so, later, the Office of the Panel on the Independent Special Prosecutor (Opfei) filed the complaint for alleged lack of evidence.

Until last year, three investigations had been carried out against Andujar Rojas, including the Justice Department, following complaints filed alleging alleged improper use of the official vehicle.

Two of the previous investigations were carried out by external investigators hired by the Central Administration of the UPR, which also culminated in dismissal. The report delivered by the second external researcher, in April 2022, indicated that the UPR Governing Board has not established specific rules governing the use of official vehicles among rectors.

The OEG investigation began following a referral, the entity indicated.

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